A white-haired woman wearing red Converse leans on the counter at Oasis (161 North 7th Street, Brooklyn; 718-218-7607) and says, “Oh, I guess I’ll have it here. Otherwise, I’ll just eat it walking home.” It was 11 p.m. Dozens of feet below us, the Bedford train was pulling into the station, although no rumble could be felt inside this Williamsburg institution.
In 2003, after many years working in the deli department of a health food store, Ihab Jibril decided it was time for a change. The Palestinian-born Jibril had been making and selling hummus at the store, using his family’s recipe from back home. Along with two friends from the same town in Palestine, they purchased the building at 161 North 7th Street and opened Oasis. Since then they’ve served authentic, quick, and delicious Middle Eastern food to hordes of people.
With his calm demeanor, Jibril is not the type of person you imagine running what is essentially a 24-hour restaurant (Oasis is open from 11 a.m. until the wee hours, 7-days a week). This past weekend, a line stretched out the door of the small restaurant, which has just five two-tops and five stools at the counter. Behind the counter, two employees were busy stuffing pitas with the delicious riches that Oasis is known for — falafel.
Each sandwich is filled with freshly-fried falafel, along with shredded lettuce, thinly sliced pickles, cabbage and tahini. The sandwich is nearly perfect: soft pita (ask for it toasted!) gives way to the crunchy outside of the falafel, revealing a soft and vibrantly green center. The vegetables and pickles add crunch and contribute backing vocals to the full orchestra of flavors and textures. “Falafel is what we eat whether its morning or afternoon,” says Jibril. “It’s our hamburger or pizza.”